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Humane Society telethon short of goal

By jim Published: November 9, 2009

By Kathy Antoniotti
Akron Beacon Journal staff writer

Volunteers for the Humane Society of Greater Akron took a pure white cat to Canal Park for the Save the Animals Imagine the PAWSibilities telethon hoping to find the senior feline a home.

The telethon was broadcast live Sunday afternoon from the ballpark in downtown Akron on Time Warner's Channel 23.

'' 'Gillett' has a great story,'' said Suzanne Meckert of Hudson, who has volunteered at the shelter for five years with her daughter, Alyssa, 18.

''He went home in our senior-to-senior program after he was at the shelter for a year,'' she said. ''He was returned because he was too active.''

The program allows seniors to adopt cats 6 years and older for a nominal fee. The idea, Meckert said, is to match the energy levels of humans and their feline companions.

''Why would a person adopt a 10-year-old cat? Because they have a heck of a lot of life in them,'' Meckert said, laughing.

There were as many success stories as sad ones. Families with ''happy endings'' waited to go on stage with dogs and cats waiting for ''forever homes.''

Rachael and Anthony Grandstaff and their two daughters, Irulan, 4, and Ellasyn, 20 months, of Wadsworth brought their newest family member, Peggy, a tiny black 6-month-old kitten, to the telethon.

''We adopted two cats in August and when we went back a month later to drop off some food we saw this kitten,'' Rachael Grandstaff said.

Peggy, who came to the shelter with a crushed left front leg, gets around just as well on three legs as her house mates, Daphne and Velma, named for Scooby-Doo cartoon characters.

The Humane Society's temperament evaluation helped them choose all their pets, she said.

''We needed a cat that would get along with our children. We wanted a cuddly cat that would sit on our laps and wouldn't run and hide all the time,'' Rachael Grandstaff said.

WONE-97.5 radio personalities Christi Nichols and Tim Daugherty hosted the event, along with Billy Soule, assistant to Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic for community relations, and Humane Society Executive Director Karen Conklin.

Proceeds from the telethon, topping $10,400 at the sound of the closing bell Sunday, will go to operating expenses for the facility, Conklin said.

Shelter officials had hoped the first telethon would raise $80,000 toward the facility's $1.4 million budget.

The Humane Society will move to a larger facility owned by the Summit Port Authority in Twinsburg Township in December.

The group currently is housing about 400 animals in a building that originally was configured for 125 animals, Conklin said.

Last month, the Port Authority agreed to lease the building to the Humane Society for $3.4 million.

Port Authority President Chris Burnham and his wife, Maryellen, of Bath, attended the event with their 6-year-old daughter, Baleigh, and Murdock, a beagle-border collie mix the family adopted from the Humane Society in April.

''I think part of the deal was adopting the dog,'' Burnham joked before he, Baleigh and Murdock were featured in a segment on the show.

U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-Copley Township, was interviewed on the show and delivered the first large check of the day: a $500 donation from her husband, Doug Corwon.

''The very first dog that I ever got was from the Humane Society of Greater Akron,'' Sutton told the television audience.

Time Warner Cable Inc. donated the on-air time for the telethon. Director of Community Relations Tish Biggs said the company started partnering with the HSGA in October to feature adoptable animals on its free on-demand Channel 501.

The shelter continues to accept donations at or by calling the shelter at 330-657-2010.

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